With the inevitable UK rain rearing it’s head every now and then I think it is handy to have a list of things to do in Manchester when it rains. You might have already seen my post on 10 free things to do in Manchester when it rains but I thought it was time to expand on it!
Free Indoor Stuff
- The Portico Library
- Manchester Town Hall
- Manchester Central Library Film Archive
- Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art
- The National Football Museum
- Chetham’s Library
- The Lowry Art Gallery
- Imperial War Museum North
- MediaCity BBC Tour (OK, so this one is not free, but it is pretty cheap and worth a visit!)
- The Trafford Centre
The Portico Library
If you’re arriving into Manchester via Piccadilly, then you’ll be right on the doorstep of the Portico Library and en route to the Manchester Art Gallery (where you can also grab a brew) so there is plenty to keep you going through the rain showers and still close to transport links.
The Portico Library is always full of lovely exhibitions which are set off by the lovely architecture and lighting from the large ornate windows and stained glass. There is also a cafe for you to enjoy a spot of lunch under the skylight dome – which is still stunning with rain dropping onto it.
For more about the Portico check out their website.
The Portico Library, 57 Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3FF
Manchester Town Hall
There is just something quite special about being able to go inside such grand buildings, especially for free. Manchester Town Hall is no exception with the sculpture hall, grand staircases and ornate floors. You can also head through the building to explore the new extension to check out the mirrored mercury-esque ceiling. Definitely worth checking out and it will put you right next to Manchester Central Library for looking through the archives and maybe watching one of the free films from the film archive.
If you fancy a treat, you could always grab some lunch in the atmospheric Sculpture Hall Cafe too.
Find out more about the town hall and cafe here.
Albert Square, Manchester M60 2LA
Manchester Central Library Film Archive
If you’re looking for something a bit different where you can leisurely spend some time taking in the history and heritage of the city, then head straight to the Manchester Central Library Archives and film Archives. Here you can explore the artifacts displayed, discover more about the city in the Local Histories books or select a film from the film archives and enjoy sitting in one of the comfortable booths.
There is also the amazing domes ceiling in the top library which is worth heading up to see. It is the place of unusual echos.
St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD
The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art
One of the smaller galleries in the city, but certainly one well worth visiting. They often have something more offbeat and new in comparison to The Whitworth or the Manchester Art Gallery and the space is lovely to experience too. Not far from the Arndale so you can nip in there for a browse and something to eat before your visit and you’re then also one a small way away from the Football Museum and Chetham’s Library too.
Check out the website to discover more and get a sneak peek into what you could be exploring there.
Market Buildings, 13 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU
The National Football Museum
Previously and art gallery, Urbis was transformed a few years ago into the National Football Museum. Not being a fan of the sport I only visit occasionally to see the changing exhibitions on the to floor. However, it really is worth going if you’re a football fan, like seeing inside unusual buildings or fancy a go in the (kind of) sideways lift.
It is located right in the heart of the city by Victoria Train station, with easy access to Chethams Library for a visit afterwards if it is still chucking it down. Find the opening times, current exhibitions, events and more over on their website.
Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, City Centre, Manchester M4 3G
If you’re a fan of beautiful architecture, dark wood and the smell of books, then this is the place for you (and John Ryland’s Library too) as you will be treated to the oldest library in the English-speaking world. Tucked away just near to the Football Museum you’ll find the library tucked away within the music school. There is a minimum donation of £3 to enter, but it is worth it to see the stunning interior.
Be sure to check out the website though for opening and visitor admission times.
Long Millgate, Manchester M3 1SB
To Salford and MediaCity
If you fancy heading a bit further afield towards Salford, you can jump on the X50 bus towards MediaCity where there are lots of things to enjoy while keeping out of the rain. An adult DayRider ticket to travel on Stagecoach buses all day in the city costs £4.30 and there are family passes available too.
The Lowry Art Gallery
If seeing Manchester in the rain isn’t enough for you, then head over to the Lowry Art Gallery in Salford to enjoy some of L.S. Lowry’s paintings of it in the rain and smog. Seriously though, it is a great place to see how the industrial city has changed and a good place to get to know some of the works of one of our greatest artists of the past.
Plus there is a great cafe and fun shop there and the Imperial War Museum North just over the bridge. And, if the rain stops for a but you can explore the Manchester Ship Canal.
Check out the website for what’s on.
Lowry Outlet, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ
Imperial War Museum North
The Imperial War Museum North offers a great deal of information about the North West during the wars. It has been really well done so there is something for everyone. If you’re up for a bit of photography, you can also go up in the viewing tower to take in the view of Manchester over the ship canal. (You can also see Winter Hill from there too)
To find out what is on at the Imperial War Museum, check out their website.
IMN North, The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester, M17 1TZ
Media City BBC Tour
If you have ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at the BBC in the North then this is your chance to have a guided tour of the studios, sound rooms and more in a backstage tour of the BBC at Media City. No, this one isn’t free, but it is not something that you get to do every day so its worth paying out a little bit to enjoy something a bit different.
You also get to go into the Blue Peter studio, sit on the North West Tonight sofas and see how the cameras work.
To check out availability and to book your ticket, visit the BBC Tours website.
BBC, MediaCityUK, Salford, M50 2EQ
And for that final bit of undercover adventure, you can hop back onto the X50 bus and travel over to the impressive shopping centre, The Trafford Centre.
The Trafford Centre
Whether you’re into shopping or not, the building is impressive as is the artificial marble pillars and romanesque architecture. To be honest, we sometimes head that way when it is soggy to get our step count in by lapping the floors. It’s also fun for a bit of people watching too. Plus, if it dries off a bit and you fancy a walk, you can head to the canal and make your way back into town (it is about 8 miles, mind you!)
To find out more about the Trafford Center and all it has to offer, please visit their website.
Barton Dock Rd, Stretford, Manchester M17 8AA
So there you have it. It might rain in Manchester from time to time but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop exploring or spend a fortune to enjoy yourself. And that is just the free and cheap stuff! Of course there are plenty of other things to keep you occupied (think pubs, shops, restaurants and the theatre) but when the sun is shining the next day you might want that extra money to enjoy the outdoors.
I hope you enjoy some of the things to do in Manchester when it rains and look forward to exploring in the sunshine too.
Here’s to liquid sunshine and the warmer counterparts! You’ve got to love the British weather!
Would you enjoy any of the things to do in Manchester when it rains?
Do you have any other hidden gems that I can add to the next one?
Let me know in the comments below 🙂